Sunset in Glenwood

On my way back from the woods Wednesday evening, i witnessed this wonderful sunset over Mount Adams, from Glenwood, WA.

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Leave No Trace

I have come to realize that my heavy tagging on Flickr in early years has brought a lot more people to places I love. This can be good or bad depending on how they behave!

There are now numerous hiking guides and photos on the Internet and detailed maps for most any place you want to explore. People are very influenced by a photo. Many see a picture that shows them exactly where some beautiful spot is, and it goes on their bucket list.

I have seen a huge increase in the number of people coming to my little spot on Trout Lake which was always kind of a local place. I know that I have a lot to do with that because I always tagged everything on Flickr for years, and people tell me that’s why they’re there. There’s good and bad to this, tourism is important to many areas economically but some locations can’t handle the extra traffic, and can actually be damaged.

Spirit falls used to be another local treasure, made popular first by kayakers going over the falls, and now tons of photographers from far away have it on their bucket list. It’s a fragile little location, and a very dangerous unofficial non-trail.

Someone pointed out to me that on the Internet you can find pictures and Maps for all these places, not to mention hiking guides people have written with detailed information. Some of the hiking guides were created with no respect for private property, leading to problems in areas like Spirit Falls on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The main access getting used down the boulder field was on private property and the owners finally cut off access so a new way in had to be found. Even the parking was on the private land, so burming and landscaping changes by the owners took that away. Now there’s not much more than a wide spot in the road now to park.

There is no real trail to Spirit Falls, just some boot tracks down a very steep dangerous slope. There are rattlesnakes and poison oak and rolling boulders to contend with, and the special little glen that contains spirit falls has a lot of moss that is damaged by heavy traffic.

It is sad to realize that our drive to get out in nature can also lead to the destruction of what we love. It’s one thing if the place has been developed to handle the extra visitors. It’s different if it’s a little known place that mostly just locals know about, and suddenly it gets flooded by people coming to get their picture and leaving again. Hopefully they at least interact with local businesses and help the economy while they’re there! In my opinion that is another responsibility of explorers in new territory. Be considerate of the locals who have in some situations created access to the special spots, and who have in many cases been taking care of them for years.

What I see is that better education about these facts is important. As photographers, I think we have a responsibility to pay attention to where we go and how we walk in fragile locations, as well as how we share locations and interact with new communities. Perhaps some places should be left undefined on social media.

Being responsible can be tricky though, since cell phones tend to automatically record GPS information, and make it so easy to snap a picture and upload it without even thinking. We get so excited to share what we found, but do we take time to consider the effect on fragile locations?

I know some landscape photographers that are switching focus because they are recognizing the impact they are having on those special spots, bringing other people there in droves.

The Internet has opened up the world. There’s no going back. Educating people about treading lightly on the land and respecting local communities and private property need to go hand in hand with the new easy availability of information.

I promote “Leave no Trace” both physical as well as virtual data ie: GPS data embedded in photos on the internet. Most people today take pictures with their phone and upload them to social media, often unaware that the photo includes GPS data automatically unless you tell your phone not to allow location info on photos.

Step back and look at the big picture. Look at the changes in your own life time in the wild zones you might love to visit. Places I went as a child that were wild and fragile have been irrevocably damaged after becoming well known. Our actions in how we share these things can have a lasting impact on the places we love.

Many photographers joke about all the people that come after them and try to use the same tripod holes. I like to encourage people to explore for themselves, find their own special spots, create their own tripod holes, and consider turning off their GPS on Photos. This can be done under settings/ location in most phones and cameras.

Leave no virtual trace to hidden, unique, fragile, and/or undeveloped locations. Once this information is out there on the Internet it can’t be taken back.

I would love any thoughts and discussion on the subject, please do share and comments your thoughts.

Spring Storms

After spending some lovely time trying and failing to catch some lightning in Southern Washington Cascades May 6, i finally gave up on that and just enjoyed where I was standing. Hope you enjoy it with me!

Soft, Springy Earth

“What a joy it is

to feel the soft, springy

earth under my feet once more,

to follow grassy roads

that lead

to ferny brooks

where I can bathe my fingers

in a cataract of rippling

notes.”

~ Helen Keller

Taking the long way home

Don’t be deceived by those lovely red bushes… Those are spring time poison oak. They certainly do make some lovely color this time of year! However it’s very difficult to walk around in the scrub oak savanna without rubbing against it.

Catherine Creek Earth Day

My journey continue today after the previous post with a walk at Catherine Creek. It was truly so pleasant, and I took the opportunity to play in the grass quite frequently :-). I felt such a peaceful simple joy laying in the grass, in the sunshine.

Enjoy!

Happy Earth Day!

Here is a series of images taken on 4/20/18, from Trout Lake to White Salmon, WA. These are phone shots. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you find yourself grateful today for this wonderful planet we all share. Thank you for your visits, feel free to share my posts!

Notes on PTSD

Notes on PTSD

I was asked “How has PTSD changed my views about myself”?

How indeed? In the beginnings I learned to trust less, doubt more, and hide from trouble and confusion.

I became less confident in my choices, in my abilities, my art, and my love.

I learned to be stronger in myself over time, until the next trauma knocked me down again.

Pulling myself back up time after time, dusting myself back off (frayed around the edges and missing pieces of my heart), putting one proverbial and physical foot in front of the other, I search continuously for the “right” way to go, and the “rightness” of new choices.

Some days I feel like a wise old sage… Others days are spent teetering on the edge of a dark abyss. Life is full of history, mystery, and presents.

I feel lazy, like a slug, a couch potato, and yet I feel too busy to think. I am the calm eye in the center of the storm, while also being the circling howling frantic winds of the hurricane.

I am strong and capable…

I am weak and hopeless…

I fear nothing, and yet stand shaking with terror.

My thoughts swirl in a metaphorical whirlpool, disappear into nothingness, and become calm and empty.

And then, add all this to the diagnosis of ADD, and sometimes it is hard to take a step forward out of fear,

but then I barge ahead like a bull in a china closet knocking over anything in my path.

Am I coming or going, or simply standing still? I’ve always been on the move jumping from subject to subject and place to place, until recently.

In the here and now, I find myself in this new place of holding still, being quiet, waiting for the winds of Heaven to dance through my soul and show me a path. 

I am Human. I am Woman.

Last of the Light

Bingen Point and Marina last week at the end of the day, peaceful, refreshing, with a semi-common type of Standing Wave Cloud bridge across the Columbia River just East of Bingen, Washington. We get these several times a year, sometimes rough edged like this, and sometimes smooth clean edged formations. There can be a few of them on occasion, with space between. Each row, or bridge, forms like the froth or smooth roll of water at the top of each wave, as tho the winds are like the waves of the ocean.

Redbuds, Blue Jays, and Joy

Spring is such a wondrous time of year. The sap begins to flow again in people as well as trees. Spirits lift, even spring storms become magnificent paintings instead of drudgery. I wake in the morning to the sounds of joyful birds and a smile on my face knowing that greens are returning via new leaves and buds; and colors will once again be painted into the landscape.

See more of my photography at starlisa.smugmug.com

Thank you!